Corporate Armor
Corporate Armor

Aug 1, 2003 12:00 PM

More than 1,400 sites and 25,000-plus employees make providing a comprehensive security program a major challenge for executives at Wells Fargo Home Mortgage, the largest U.S. retail mortgage originator headquartered in Des Moines, Iowa.

Ensuring a consistent approach and methodology for security equipment selection across the Wells Fargo enterprise, which includes $34 billion in assets, was a top priority. Wells Fargo Corporate Security established company-wide security equipment standards. Burnsville, Minn.-based VTI Security Integrators helped to ensure consistent application of those standards by working with its 14 partners in SecurityNet, a network of independently owned North American security system integrators.

"SecurityNet allows them to cover the entire country with locally-owned and operated independent security professionals," says Michael Bacon, vice president and manager of enterprise services for Wells Fargo Corporate Security. "We determine our best approach and the SecurityNet team implements the plan at each of our sites."

The security standards are constantly reviewed and updated by Corporate Security and Wells Fargo office managers, and the SecurityNet team is kept updated on any changes. "We aren't changing equipment every time there is a new product introduced," Bacon explains. "We are too large a corporation to make wholesale changes in the short term. We want products that are tried and true before we make them a part of our plan."

"A hodgepodge of equipment will only cause confusion in the installation, operation and maintenance of the many systems," agrees VTI's April Carlson, the Wells Fargo senior account manager for SecurityNet.

On the Corporate Security Approved Products List, access control systems come from Boca Raton, Fla.-based Casi brand from GE Interlogix and Andover Controls from Andover, Mass., using HID card technology. Some of the smaller Wells Fargo offices with as few as five employees employ key locks. Carlson says access systems have been installed with as many as 128 readers. HID's ProxPro keypads are used in areas such as data rooms that require a higher level of security. Alarm panels from Digital Monitoring Products, Springfield, Mo., are also included in many of the offices.

Digital cameras by Pelco are installed in about 75 percent of the Wells Fargo Home Mortgage offices nationwide. They are recorded by DVRs from Columbia, Md.-based Lanex Digital Recording (owned by Loronix/Verint), and GE Interlogix's Kalatel brand, based in Corvallis, Ore. In most cases, between three and eight cameras are installed at each site. Recorded video is archived for 30 days.

Other security components, such as turnstiles and biometric devices, are used only in what are termed "mission critical" operational sites. "Corporate security has been working to identify all critical sites within the organization if something major happened to those sites, it would create a significant business disruption," Carlson said.

The Wells Fargo site managers oversee the installed systems, Bacon says. For the most part, each office has a standalone system, because there are too many offices for one department to monitor access control and camera systems from a central location. Offices equipped with a DVR, however, allow the manager or the corporate security department to connect or dial in to view live or recorded video.

SecurityNet partner, RFI Communications and Security Systems, San Jose, Calif., monitors all non-bank alarm panels. In the event of an alarm, station operators call the site contact and, if necessary, the appropriate police department to respond. RFI has also completed a number of system installations for Wells Fargo sites in California.

At any one time, Wells Fargo Home Mortgage is likely adding 10 to 20 security systems, mostly in new office facilities, Bacon says. All projects go through the same process. First, there is a comprehensive internal prepared needs assessment, followed by a formal proposal from a SecurityNet partner. Following project approval and installation, the system is thoroughly tested before being turned over to the local Wells Fargo site manager.

Carlson has worked closely with SecurityNet partner SFI Electronics Inc., Charlotte, N.C., which recently installed two systems at offices in Charlotte and Greensboro. And SFI is servicing a Wells Fargo service center in Fort Mill, S.C. Later this year, the SecurityNet partners hope to begin work on another major facility there. The site will include about 50 card readers, 30 cameras and an alarm panel with more than 60 glass break sensors.

Another SecurityNet partner, Atlanta-based Operational Security Systems (OSS), oversaw installation of a seven-door, five-camera system for a Wells Fargo office in Alpharetta, Ga. "VTI sent us the head-end access system with all software already loaded, as well as a pre-programmed CCTV recorder," says Greg Brune, the OSS project manager. "We added the readers and the cameras, wired everything together and it worked right away."

Bacon said he has been very pleased with the systems, policies and procedures that have been developed by his office and SecurityNet's ability to implement consistent application of those directives. So much so, that the business partnership has been expanded to include other Wells Fargo non-bank subsidiaries.

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